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How will you retrieve your personal data after a disaster?

by Marc Bennett CNET staff/forum admin / June 27, 2006 5:13 AM PDT

How will you retrieve your personal data after an unthinkable disaster?

Online services (please explain)
Safety deposit box at a bank (please explain)
Weatherproof/fireproof safe at home (please explain)
Backup information at someone else's home (please explain)
USB flash drive (please explain)
I'm not prepared at all for a disaster

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My Plan (such as it is)
by edbrady / June 27, 2006 2:27 PM PDT

I back up my entire two hard drives every week. I use Acronis Disk Image.

I can revert to any moment in the last year.

And the disks are kept f-a-r away from where I am, so they are safer. (Nothing is ever 100%.)

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fireproof safe
by rtsphoto / June 27, 2006 2:31 PM PDT

I backup all my impotant data to usb drive and cd/dvd and keep it in a fireproof safe. i keep important papers in there as well. i keep all my bills, ledgers, and such on usb drive with cd backup not on my hard drive because they crash. i'm more worried about harddrive crashes than fires.
The safe made me prepared for both.

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by Starman35 / June 27, 2006 10:15 PM PDT
In reply to: fireproof safe

I keep personal info backed up onto 3 different hard drives, and once a year, I make a DVD backup archive. I'm not concerned about fire as much as a major hurricane impact. My house won't flood, but I could be without electricity in the heat & humidity for a month or so after a major storm. Important papers I keep in a steel file cabinet. Its not fireproof either, but it is windproof. I live in a concrete house & don't smoke, so fire is a secondary concern.

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Retrieve personal data after a disaster
by septus / June 27, 2006 2:32 PM PDT

Hi Marc,
The subjectively most elegant way I have come across (and use) is by a combination of ''other'' and ''USB'':
1. All personal data, operating system Linux Puppy 2.01, and applications are on a bootable 1.4 gig DVD-R (CD will do too), which can retrieve data also from HD:s (PATA or SATA; NTFS, ext. 3, etc. will do) mini-DVD. If the machine has a DVD ''burner drive'', any retrieved data can just be saved to the same DVD.
OR (if the machine does not have a writeable CD or DVD drive):
2. Boot from same mini CD or DVD as above, mount USB device, access the HD, retrieve data, and transfer to a mounted USB.

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that the way :)
by r061074s / July 10, 2006 11:06 PM PDT

actualy i backup on Mac OS X external HD witch is Win, Mac Sys bootable, CD copies for 2006 bc no DVDR anymore otherwise DVD & SD per year, in 3 different place, the all lot, fire, watter, electromanetic safer
paranoid !? Happy
living on a copie made me able to access to everything anywhere
finish the "i'm not home i'll let you know" Wink
happy to see security make us think

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(NT) (NT) I'll ask the CIA.......
by Kutusov / June 27, 2006 2:36 PM PDT
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I'll Ask My Wife
by RobertMusil / June 28, 2006 12:12 AM PDT

Same difference...

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How will you retrieve your personal data after a disaster?
by pg / June 27, 2006 2:41 PM PDT

I have all paper documents in a safety deposit box with local paper copies in a fire proof safe. All electronic copies are backed up to a RAID 5 server in a remote location.

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Mozy is the only way to go....
by alexhouse / June 27, 2006 2:55 PM PDT

I strongly encourage everyone to sign up for Mozy ( It's a free online backup system that's automatic. You start with 1 GB of storage space and can get 2 GB pretty easily. The also offer a paid version where you can get substantially more space for not a lot of money. I've been using it for months and I wouldn't live without it. I make weekly data backups to DVD, but that won't help in a situation like Katrina (unless I put them in a safe deposit box). You have nothing to lose but your data....

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Mozy is not as good as it looks
by kukaduro / January 16, 2008 6:06 AM PST

I enthusiastically signed up for Mozy yesterday. Prepaid the two years (very reasonable) fee and started uploading 200 GB worth of my photographs. Guess what? It would take a year and a half to complete this task. The average upload speed is ~20 kb/s. Their customer service remotely logged into my Mac Pro (Leopard OS) but found no problem. I tested the Comcast upload speed. It is 2000 kb/s. I sent Mozy an email requesting refund and cancellation. Let's see what happens.

It's a shame. They offer the best rates, nice people but not up to what they advertise...... or they want to eliminate customers who try to take advantage of the unlimited space.

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Maybe the problem is elsewhere........
by weatherman109 / January 22, 2008 2:28 PM PST

I backup from Australia and can upload 200-300Mb in 2-3hrs

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Mozy is NOT the way to go.
by johnsonridge / May 26, 2008 2:27 AM PDT

Yes, Mozy is free. But, even with the paid version, the backups work sporadically with server errors, connection errors, etc. That MIGHT be OK if the technical support was responsive but it is not. I recommend going with your own virtual server backup or with something like Amazon S3 or JungleDisk.

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Personal data backup in depth
by rhansen / June 27, 2006 3:38 PM PDT

Your survey is defective because it doesn't allow for multiple backup methods.

Full backups to 2 different USB drives on 2 different machines

Burn off full backups to CD-R & DVD which are stored off site

Paper printouts of most critical data (less then 1% - 50 pages)

I'm also considering storing the most critical data as an encrypted archive (most of this is relatively static) in my "personal storage" space provided by my cable modem service provider.

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too expensive

I have a 1 TB (4x250GB) striping raid. Its about 90% full - I do video editing and other digital content creation For me its way too expensive to buy backup storage. I bought a 120GB hard drive and back stuff up to that but it can only hold so much. DVDs are soooo small, I often have files over 15GB that I can only backup by ripping to minidv tapes which is slow and painful. The bad part is that I'm in college so I'm carting my comp off to adn from dorms all the time so its in risk of damage from other stuff besides floods. The problem w/ internet backups is ISPs. They are just dumb because you can't buy decent upload speed unless you pay over $150/month. so even if there were viable internet sites for large backups it would be impracticle for anythign over a few hundred MB. If I had money I would setup a server at a freinds house and just back my stuff up to it every so often...but then the upload speed is so brutal it would be a waste of time

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Reply to How will you retrieve your person
by ciggieoxo / June 27, 2006 4:18 PM PDT

Community weekly poll forum question.

I have a separate portable 120 GB firewire external drive which I update often. I can quickly scoop up this external USB drive and run to ''higher ground''. Of course that is assuming there is some news/warning of impending disaster.

This external drive is for my personal use so there is no critical business data; however beside the external drive, I have some photos, texts and programs that are handy so I can backup this crucial ''stuff'' to my 30 GB MP3 Player too. A friend and I store these update/restore so they baked up off-site.

As for destruction of my home by fire, I would have much more important issues to deal with aside from a melted computer.

I live in upstate NY where hurricanes, tornados; earthquakes; and the likes are extremely rare so I am not too worried. Still I'm protected.

God's Peace, Tom

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Data is our companies life blood
by angevij / June 27, 2006 4:45 PM PDT

As you say, nobody likes to think about disasters happening, but as we all know - they do from time to time. That?s why our studio manager Brian at G3 Creative has installed software called Retrospect which backs up all our data on two seperate DAT drives, one of the drives is portable and is locked in a fire proof safe deposit box and the other remains onsite.

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I would start over!!!
by niceguy12 / June 27, 2006 5:10 PM PDT

I would carry on with life and start all over on a clean slate! Everything I would need such as birth certificates would have to be replaced but everything else that I don't need or don't use would just be gone forever!
I think of it as a way to start fresh and start over!

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re: I would start over!!!
by detrimental / June 28, 2006 2:25 AM PDT
In reply to: I would start over!!!

No kidding. I'm not sure I'd mind if my personal data got destroyed.

$86,000+ in school loans...gone. Hopefully, anyway. Knowing them, they'd find a way to track me down regardless. Happy

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emergency plan
by maggiedev / June 27, 2006 8:00 PM PDT

i have lost my home in a tornado and again in a house fire. i have learned that you cannot save everything, but here is how i plan to save what i can. first, i moved away from the coast after 40 years. that was the most important thing.. i have been through 7 hurricanes. now i live in a sturdy brick home in central texas. i keep my laptop near the door as well as all photo album. all my photos are also stored on disk and in boxes near another door. i don't carry a purse anymore. i carry two cameras every where i go so everything is in camera bag. that includes wallet, checkbook, credit cards and passport. everyone in the house knows what to grab in any given are of the house to save what we can. i took photos of interior of home and all its contents and labeled photos with the brand an serial numbers and put on disk. it is not the best of plans, but it makes me a lot more comfortable than the NO PLAN that i had before and lost everything twice. all of our urgent financial data is with a broker so the most important things to save in our home is ourselves and our photos. i have none of my childrens very young years due to the tornado. those are now a priority. not the best of plans, but if we have a fire, we grab camera bag, laptop, disks and run for our lives.

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Security, Jim, but not as we know it!
by rfriendship / June 27, 2006 8:17 PM PDT

The backup systems are not set in cement but I reckon for most eventualities mine works quite well.

You need two hard drives in your machine and a USB2 portable drive if possible.
From the many offerings of backup software, I chose Acronis, simply because the ''lite'' version came with a USB hard drive.

The slave hard drive has two partitions. (its an Iomega 250 Gig HD)

On the one partition I keep My Documents, My Music (Separately) and any other historical stuff, such as from previous PC's etc)

On the second partition I keep Image backups of my hard drives using Acronis. These I update as I feel necessary.

I also back up the latest Image and the My Documents folder to the portable drive, again, as and when I feel necessary.

It may sound complicated (or not) but if you require to re-install Windows, such as I have done recently, then you only have to point to the 2nd drive and My Documents to pick up where you left of.

These steps work ok for me. Mozy seems quite a good idea too!
One word of caution regarding DVD's etc. Always choose a top quality brand. Products do vary and some last better than others.

Best reagrds to all, Bob

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How will you retrieve my personal data after a disaster?
by rollabou / June 27, 2006 9:32 PM PDT

I have an external hard drive on which I make back up depending of mass of work I do during a week.
Before that I cleaned my PC of every thngs not necessary.

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Backup is the ABC to data safeguarding
by Argie-Salvador / June 27, 2006 10:08 PM PDT

100% of my prime data I keep both at home and in the office, as they are 25 miles away from each other. How? I relay zipped info by email every single day. My work, private (poems, short stories &c) and office (spreadsheets, a few letters, calculations) is thus reasonably safe. Additionally, in the office, I keep copies of the more important bumf in my HD and in the server, while my writings go also to CDs (all drafts and 'final drafts') or diskettes.

Now, what is disaster?: Katrina? hackers? forest fires? floods? lightning? kids? Buenos Aires (and its environs) is a city free from most natural disasters as quakes and the other mentioned. Certainly we have floods from time to time but these only affect the lowlands. Our office is well above the floodlines of the past 100 years; I live in a two-stories house (ground floor plus plus two on top) in a neighbourhood close to the River Plate but on very high ground, a hill, and my PC is in the top floor. I feel quite secure in this way. Am I missing something?

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Online Document Storage and great prices.
by mhmob / June 27, 2006 11:02 PM PDT

Online document storage is the way to go. We have a prduct that makes it easy to retrieve your documents from anywhere while keeping them in a super safe and secure place. You can upload and download your docs from anywhere that you have an internet connection. You can also give rights to your users so that they can only do what you want them to be able to with just a few mouse clicks.



Shawn Wallis
Network Administrator, MCSE
Office (770) 558-5982
Mobile (678) 592-4141

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Weatherproof/fireproof safe at home

Besides the fireproof box at home, I have a laptop roller bag, and digital backups on three external hard drives.

Written plan which lists the most important items to take when evacuating within five minutes.

External hard drives are put in the laptop rollerbag, fireproof box, jewelry, wallets, Glock 9mm handgun, photo albums, and two suitcases of clothing are packed in both vehicles.

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Weatherproof/fireproof safe at home
by Bayonnebob1 / June 29, 2006 9:17 AM PDT

Great plan but how does one do all that in 5 minutes? Like packing 2 suitcases?
I have to find a gun somewhere - reading your list I realized this is an important object - very sorry to say but true.

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Disaster safety
by macho248 / June 28, 2006 2:24 AM PDT

I live in the Virgin Islands and have been through some of the worst hurricanes in history. I have a small fireproof safe secured by bolts to the floor in a closet. My personal papers are in ziplock bags and backup scan discs with important financial data are all in the safe. A "goldenrod" or other means of preventing mildew is important in damp climates.
Make an attempt to cover your computer and electronics with a waterproof tarp or plastic bags just before a storm and move them away from windows and up off the floor in case of flooding. In case you aren't able to get back in your home immediately after a disaster, you should pack a bag in case you need to evacuate. You could scan in documents like birth certificates, insurance papers and also any financials you may need onto a scan disc type storage that anyone's computer can easily read. Always get back into your home as soon as possible, get the plastic off the electronics and wipe them down because hurricanes are all salt air. If there is a lot of damage and everyone has evacuated, looting is a possibility even in private residences and few theives will take the time to break into a safe they can't move. Most important thing is to be prepared for the worst and then hope for the best.

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DVD backup

How come DVD backup isn't an option in the poll? I backup all my stuff on DVD Re-Writables it's the most convenient way to do it, and if I don't need it anymore I can just wipe the re-writeable and use it again! Also all my important emails go through my GMAIL account so they're stored nice and safely in Google's server!

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by MrMe003 / June 28, 2006 2:56 AM PDT

I have backup systems online.. some little files i also backup to my gmail.

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Onsite backup for hardware failure or theft only.
by farhansyed / June 28, 2006 3:25 AM PDT

Although I back up important files to CD or floppy disk, and save printed copies of important documents, that is to protect against hardware failure or theft. I don't really have any way to protect against losing printed documents or computer data in the event of a fire, flood, hurricane, or other disaster. I would imagine most people don't think that far ahead, either.

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How will you survivors obtain this information if you die?
by sfmiller / June 28, 2006 3:35 AM PDT

While thinking about having your data protected, please also consider that you are dead or incapacitated by the disaster. Your family or executor will still need this information.

My approach is to keep all account numbers and PINs and URLs in an encrypted spreadsheet and include that spreadsheet in my routine backups. I periodically provide a backup disk to my sister (500 miles away, our living trust executor) and have walked her through how to access the encrypted data and accounts.

I keep paper copies of all insurance and tax filings at work; but scanning them into PDFs is excellent idea. I keep latest backup thumb drive (encrypted) and disk at work. As IT person, offsite backup is 2nd nature.

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